The NHL season is about to resume. And I can’t wait. All I can really say is, it’s about time. While pro-wrestling has just trucked along and golf has resumed, and international soccer matches are being played in massive empty stadiums, it’s about time we got our hockey back. So, what can we expect?
Many think that we’ll see a shaky start with so much time off. I believe we’ll see highly-competitive play the second that skates hit the ice. Why you might ask? Because most of the teams will be back at full-depth. On top of that, little nagging injuries that professional athletes of all sports, let alone hard-hitting, full-contact games like hockey, will be healed. No, bruises or stingers, no slightly torn muscles, no ignored concussions.
Teams with Strong Special Teams
I like squads with strong special teams and that makes for plenty of dark horses in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals are the favorites on the Eastern Conference betting odds boards for two reasons. They have clinched the conference, the playoffs, and their division respectively, and they are also strong on special teams. The Bruins, in particular, had fantastic power-play stats this season. And if there is one thing that some people overlook, it’s how the power-play (PP) numbers are often the strongest near the beginning of the season.
“Our team is full of professionals, so I trust that everyone has done all they could to prepare.”
📰 Nordstrom back in town ahead of training camp: https://t.co/7bYK7x0ywW
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 30, 2020
Power-play percentages ten to be better earlier in the campaign because defenders are still shaking the rust off. So, with the season restart, we should see something similar. The best power-play teams in the league should be dominant early on. Then later in the play-offs, those with excellent penalty-kill (PK) numbers will have an advantage.
If you’re a Bruins fan, this bodes well. After the season paused, the Boston Bruins were still the second-best PP team in the league. They maintained a well above average PP percentage of 25.2, second only to the Edmonton Oilers who had a freakish 29.5 percent PP%.
But the Bruins were deadly with power-plays through the first month of play. No one in the NHL could match their monstrous 35.7 percent overall and astounding 47 percent at home. So, I pity the team that faces them in their first series. Conversely, as the season wore on, the Bruins were one of the best PK teams in the league. So, there’s that too. The Bruins are currently sitting with an 84.2% power plays defended stat.
Tampa Bay ranks No. 5 in PP, just behind the Rangers. But their PK rate is significantly better. This is why I think the Lightning are the Bruins’ biggest competition in 2020.
Odds on the teams that have to play in:
● Pittsburgh -200 vs. Montreal +175
● Carolina -150 vs. N.Y. Rangers +130
● N.Y. Islanders -110 vs. Florida -110
● Toronto -160 vs. Columbus +140
The New York Rangers have a great chance at beating the Carolina and I will be dropping a few bucks on them in that series with that dog money. Why? PP percentage. Although they are close, the Rangers are Ranked 4th in PPs vs. the Hurricanes 8th ranked stat. On top of that, the Rangers swept the Canes before the season paused. They most recently beat them 5-2 and in the 4 games played outscored Carolina 17 to 9.
The Panthers are ranked No. 11 but the Islanders are way back at No. 30 in this stat. That said, their PK is above 80% so they have solid defensive special teams. So, it puts us in a weird spot. The Islanders won in a shootout back in October of 2019 then they won over the Panthers again in early November; both of those games were up in NY. The third time they faced the Panthers, it was down in Florida and they again won. So, I have to lean on the Islanders to take the 5-game series of the Hurricanes to play in.
We very well could see both New York teams trying to take down Boston and Tampa Bay in the playoffs.